The first deputy speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, Ahmed Wase, said Nigeria has started reaping the fruits of its temporary border closure.
He said this during the second ordinary session of ECOWAS Parliament on Wednesday.
Mr Wase said, “Nigeria has started seeing some changes in terms of security advantages.”
”Before the border was closed, terrorist-groups concealed their arms inside rice but the border closure has improved that security challenge,” he said.
Sadiq Ibrahim, who presented Nigeria’s country report on behalf of Mr Wase, also said ECOWAS has adopted Nigeria’s position on the border closure.
He said that Nigeria will not open its borders until neighbouring countries are ready to comply fully with the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).
Although it has been misinterpreted by neighbouring countries that Nigeria is trying to cripple them economically, Mr Ibrahim explained that Nigeria is trying to grow its local production.
He disputed comments made by some African countries who were bent on convincing Nigeria to change its stand. “In ECOWAS, we represent our people, not our presidents, this is a parliament of the people,” he said.
He further quoted that 75 per cent of Nigerians are into agriculture, ”and growing the agriculture industry in Nigeria means creating jobs for the unemployed in the nation”.
“The more you allow rice into Nigeria, the more you empower countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and Vietnam,” he added.
ETLS was created in 1976. It is what binds the ECOWAS member states together. It encourages entrepreneurial and economic development in member states.
However, according to the country report, the neighbouring countries have breached the agreement.
Most of the rice imported into neighbouring countries like Benin are exported into Nigeria, hence, turning Nigeria into a dumping ground for their exports.
Despite the ban of foreign rice through the land borders into Nigeria in 2016, rice still managed to find its way into the Nigerian market, curbing the profitability of local producers.
This, and the need to curb illegal importation led to the temporal closure of the land borders.
According to Mr Wase, ”as soon as the ETLS laws are enforced in the neighbouring countries, Nigeria will reopen its borders”.